Our Supporter Fundraising team are here to support anybody who wants to make a difference to autistic people and their families. They're an adventurous bunch, and between them they've walked on hot coals and climbed mountains for good causes. Find out who's who by clicking on the links below.
Kate Donohue, Head of Supporter Fundraising
Toya Palmer, Events Manager
Rachel Verrals, Senior Events Officer
Ben Smoke, Events Officer
Rachael Lynch, Events Officer
Caroline Rees, Fundraising Campaigns Officer
Leslie Gold, Community Fundraising Manager
Eric Kent, Supporter Fundraising Officer
Karron Kent, Supporter Fundraising Officer
Joanna Ackroyd, Supporter Fundraising Officer
Kate's first priority is making sure everyone in the team has everything they need to keep our fundraisers feeling well-informed, motivated and appreciated. Kate has two autistic brothers so she knows from personal experience about the challenges and the gifts autism brings. Her favourite part of her job is cheering people on and meeting some of the people we support.
When she’s not working, Kate is usually in a pub, talking about her brothers to anyone who will listen.
Toya supports the team to create our fantastic challenge, social and special events. She also manages the Night Walks and one-off bespoke events. With eight years’ experience in the sector, Toya loves organising and participating in a variety of events. She's done everything from trekking up Kilimanjaro, jumping out of planes and off bridges, to taking on triathlons, 10ks, half marathons and the mighty London Marathon.
Outside of work, you will most likely find Toya up a mountain somewhere taking photos.
Rachel manages our treks, Brighton and New York marathons, Nightrider, Tough Mudder and Stars Shine for Autism, our Christmas carol concert. She also works on special events such as re-launching our charity gala ball, Spectrum and our Autism Uncut Film & Media Awards.
Rachel is a keen traveller – she recently returned from two years in Australia and South-East Asia where she sky-dived and swam with great white sharks and crocodiles (not at the same time).
Ben manages RideLondon, London 10,000, the Great North Run and our fundraising social media channels. He is also responsible for our Abseil day and our all new Skydiving day in March!
In his spare time Ben enjoys socialising, festivals, social activism, writing and glitter. He can normally be found in a field with flowers in his hair or dancing to disco music. Or both.
Rachael manages events such as the London Marathon, Royal Parks and Silverstone Half Marathons, and our bespoke All Aboard for Autism event. She's also kick-starting a student fundraising initiative.
Rachael really enjoys outdoor sports, especially rock-climbing. So much so she has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, trekked to Machu Picchu and even been to Mount Everest Base Camp!
Caroline looks after campaigns such as World Autism Awareness Week, Schools' Autism Awareness Week and the virtual balloon race.
She loves everything about her job, but speaking to our supporters and finding out about their stories is her favourite part.
One other thing Caroline loves is gravy and says you can’t beat a good roast swimming in gravy!
Leslie's been a fundraiser for 15 years. She began her career in the charity sector as a volunteer. She manages the team who support all our wonderful community fundraisers around the country – from people holding bake sales and quiz nights to tackling huge personal challenges, like rowing the Atlantic or creating their own marathon. Her favourite fundraising experience so far involved walking on hot coals!
Outside the office, Leslie can be found spending time with her dog and being ignored by her cat.
Eric’s role is to provide help, advice and resources for people who wish to raise funds for us and, where required, delivers presentations to their clubs and organisations. Eric is based in Worcestershire and supports community fundraisers across much of England and Wales.
Eric is married to Shauna and his interests include golf, travel and researching family history.
Karron gives advice and support to fundraisers in Scotland and the North East of England. She says, “I love the job and have the pleasure of meeting fantastic people with amazing fundraising stories. Everyone is here for the right reasons – to make a difference to autistic people. It gives me great pleasure to be part of the team spirit. I am amazed on a daily basis just what they contribute of their time.”
Karron loves spending time with her two children, holidaying at her caravan on the Isle of Arran and going to her tap class (but insists she is no Ginger Rogers).
Joanna Ackroyd, Supporter Fundraising Officer
Joanna has been a fundraiser for six years and her role is to support and inspire fundraisers in the community who want to make a difference. She is based in Sussex looking after the South-East region and her favourite thing about her job is meeting supporters, so do say hello!
Outside of work, Joanna is busy chasing after her kids Esme and Arlo on the South Downs or performing at the Brighton Little Theatre where she is a longstanding member.